The continuing feminist refrain is that women who stay at home raising their kids are demeaning themselves and taking economic risks. But Megan Basham writes that staying at home may make the most economic sense for mothers. One of the feminist claims is that by removing themselves for the workforce, women are making themselves dependent on their husbands for their future security. Well, isn’t that what marriage is about? Working together in a mutually dependent relationship to accomplish together what one person alone could not or could only do through immense personal sacrifice?
Yet if off-ramping is the dangerous “high-stakes gamble” Bennetts and her supporters claim, why are so many smart, rational women laying their money and their futures on the table? Perhaps because even a cursory look at hard data (rather than the collection of sad stories Bennetts has put forth) indicates that, statistically, there is very little to fear from making motherhood a career choice. Indeed, having one partner out of the workforce can actually provide protection against financial ruin.
Basham responds to the fear tactics with facts. Feminists claim that husbands commonly abandon their wives and leave them saddled with kids and no personal resources. This is not true. In fact, two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women. Of course, some number of those divorces are sought because of the husband’s actions, such as adultery or abuse, but even so women are often in control of the divorce train right from the beginning.
In fact, stay-at-home moms are less likely to get divorced than working wives, and that couples are much more likely to break-up when they are earning equal incomes than if only one is the primary income-earner. It doesn’t say whether this is due to jealousy or whether the stresses and pressures of two working parents or some other factor plays the primary role. Interestingly, “When the higher-earning partner does leave, it is most often the wife.”
While one income is better in the long run
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